On August 3, Ralph will be the featured guest during the one-hour, well-known Dutch talk show Kunststof, presented by Gijs Groenteman. Please tune in: NTR Radio 1, from 19.30 to 20.30 h!
Maartje Valk, reviewer for Dutch classical music magazine ‘Luister’, has written an excellent review in the current issue about the highly acclaimed CD ‘Halo‘ for which Ralph partnered with flutist/piccoloist Ilonka Kolthof. Scoring it 9/10, it says, for example: ‘with [Ilonka Kolthof’s] recital partner Ralph van Raat at the piano, she makes the seemingly impossible, possible […] The piano is a full-blown musical dialogue partner and Van Raat succeeds in delivering the almost unplayable piano parts into the universe as lightly as a feather‘.
Martin Blaumeiser has written a beautiful review for German online magazine The New Listener, about Ralph’s new CD with French Rarities for Naxos. Quoting a selection:
Van Raats Darbietung deutet die Musik [Boulez ‘Notations’] als Abfolge von kontrastierenden Charakterstücken, klanglich kultiviert, mit intelligentem Pedalgebrauch und Sinn für „schöne“ Wendungen. Von der Radikalität und auch Rauigkeit, die etwa [andere Pianisten, ed.] hier immer zelebrieren, distanziert er sich aber anscheinend ganz bewusst. Dafür gelingt ihm bei Prélude, Toccata et Scherzo – mit 27 Minuten immerhin so umfangreich wie die 2. bzw. 3. Sonate – ein echter Premieren-Kracher. Die Musik ist derart mitreißend virtuos und lässt, besonders in der Toccata, schon den echten Boulez aufblitzen, dass man staunt, warum der Komponist dieses erstklassige Werk dem Publikum so lange vorenthalten hat – bis er es von Ralph van Raat hörte. […] Le Cossyphe d’Heuglin und Le Moqueur polyglotte [Messiaen] […] – auch hier hat er seinen eigenen, typisch klangschönen Zugang für die eigenartigen Vogelklänge. […] Fazit: Erstklassig dargebotene Seltenheiten, die mancher vielleicht trotzdem schon kennt. Aber allein wegen Boulez‘ Prélude, Toccata et Scherzo wird diese Scheibe dann doch ein absolutes Muss für jeden Freund moderner Klaviermusik. Da war Naxos mal wieder schneller als die Konkurrenz…
Another two very positive reviews have been published. For example, Thierry Vagne wrote for Musique Classique&Co: Un vrai bonheur et une belle réussite de ce pianiste qui, si tout se passe bien, devrait donner en janvier prochain un récital Boulez et participer à un débat sur le jeune Boulez avec notamment Philippe Manoury, à la Philharmonie. Also, Christine Labroche concluded her in-depth review for ConcertoNet.com by writing In fine, le récital de Ralph van Raat, c’est une aventure à tenter. Il s’impose au curieux par son programme et au mélomane par sa sensibilité musicale.
The performances by Ralph van Raat, the ideal recording, the choice of music and the presentation of these French rarities are all superb. I cannot fault anything on this disc. The liner notes are written by the pianist and make essential reading for the listener who wants to understand the music on this excellent and often incredibly exciting and beautiful CD.
A great new review on Ralph’s French Rarities CD, written by John France! For the whole review, click here.
Ralph’s newest CD release on Naxos, French Piano Rarities, has just been awarded a 10/10 score in Crescendo Magazine, scoring maximally on all four elements: the sound recording, the liner notes, the repertoire and the interpretation! It has also been awarded the Crescendo ‘Découverte Award’. Crescendo’s music critic Pierre-Jean Tribot has also interviewed Ralph; the text (in French) can be found here.
Today, music critic Seth Colter Walls wrote a very positive review about Ralph’s new CD in The New York Times: ‘In addition to other solo piano writing from Boulez, van Raat’s new album shows his lustrous way of playing lesser-heard gems by Debussy, Ravel and Messiaen. Given this repertoire, the album’s title, “French Piano Rarities,” makes plenty of sense. Yet it doesn’t do justice to the worldliness that informs this pianist’s process, no matter which tradition he is exploring.’ Dutch NRC Handelsblad critic Joep Christenhusz describes Ralph’s playing as ‘alert, powerful pianism‘ in this review!
On May 28th, Ralph took part in a special and memorable live-stream concert, straight from an empty Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam. This project, called Music for Empty Spaces, was initiated and produced by composer, pianist, musicologist and organizer Heather Pinkham. For this project, Heather has asked twelve composers, residing in The Netherlands, to write a 4-minute piece for a specific soloist (twelve in total as well), reflecting on the lockdown corona situation. For every performance, the composer was the only audience member. Composers involved were a.o. Jacob TV, Heather Pinkham, Chiel Meijering, Aspasia Nasopoulou, and Anthony Fiumara. Joey Roukens wrote a concise but dramatic piano work for Ralph, called Roaming Empty Streets. Besides the live stream, the concert was live broadcasted by the Dutch national radio. The entire concert can now be watched back here, with Ralph’s performance starting at 49’30”.
The Netherlands’ Radio 4 classical music presenter Lex Bohlmeijer has elected Ralph’s new French Piano Rarities release on Naxos, as a featured CD for his daily evening program Passaggio. Starting today, every workday this week, between 19h and 20h, a track of the CD will be played, introduced by a short interview with Ralph. The broadcast can be heard live here.
New, very positive reviews on Ralph’s new CD ‘French Piano Rarities’ keep coming in! For example, music critic Bas van Putten describes the recording in ‘De Groene Amsterdammer‘ as ‘an overwhelmingly relevant CD‘. Critic Emanuel Overbeeke writes for OpusKlassiek: ‘Van Raat plays with equal dedication both well-known and lesser-known composers and he still grows as a pianist every year. From the beginning, Van Raat had a strong focus on the music’s structure, and was not intimidated by the beauty of the specialty of the musical moment. However, during the course of years, his palet became everytime richer and more nuanced.’ Italian magazine Il Manifesto : ‘Ralph van Raat [is] a pianist who has a talent for launching a dialogue with the most intellectual and lofty contemporary music (Bryars, Adams, Riley) and also possesses the intimate sensitivity that is required to understand the groundbreaking twentieth-century music most ideologically and conceptually rooted in the nineteenth century (Stravinsky). […] Like in a Borges’ novel, van Raat manages to untangle [Pierre Boulez’] critical and polemical rigour through a creative rendition that seamlessly establishes […] a nexus that gets changed and self-adjusts as it encounters the performances and works of other composers.’